Mason Passes Fall Enrollment Target by 1,500 Students

Posted: September 16, 2009 at 12:07 pm

Mason, one of the largest universities in the Commonwealth of Virginia, has surpassed its fall enrollment target by 1,500 students. The official enrollment for the university stands at 32,504, the highest number in its history.

Each year, the enrollment team at the university determines enrollment targets based upon institutional historical data for freshman and transfer students, as well as retention rates for existing students.

This year, the university enrolled about 1,000 more undergraduate students than targeted, and 500 more graduate students.

“George Mason’s higher-than-anticipated enrollment increase is reflective, in many ways, of a growing appreciation of the connection between a quality education and one’s ability to obtain viable employment in today’s economy. This reality is seen in the upswing in students in a number of our academic areas such as teaching, engineering, the health professions and information technology. The enrollment increase in those fields, particularly among in-state students, also reflects the increased recognition of the quality of Mason’s programs in these and other academic areas,” says Mason President Alan Merten.

According to university officials, the increased enrollment is due to a larger freshman class, a greater number of transfer students and higher retention of students, particularly at the sophomore to junior level.

Following are specifics on fall enrollment trends.

  • New first-time freshmen: There is a 3 percent increase over target. More than three-quarters (78.1 percent) are in-state students. Fifty-one percent are from the Northern Virginia area, while 26 percent are from other parts of the state. Less than a quarter, (21 percent) are out-of-state students. Additionally, the number for first-time freshmen in the Honors College doubled.
  • Transfer students: There is a 14 percent increase over target—about 330 more students than projected. Seventy percent of Mason’s 2,600 transfer students are from two-year institutions and 30 percent are from four-year institutions, including a large number of transfers from other Virginia four-year institutions. Additionally, 91 percent of community college transfers are from Northern Virginia Community College.
  • Retention: Rates are up over fall 2008 for almost every level of student.  This increase in retention accounts for about 500 more undergraduate students than projected. The most encouraging trend is the significant increase in the sophomore to junior retention rate at Mason—nearly 17 percent more students than projected elected to continue their education at George Mason University after their sophomore year. In addition, Mason is 3 percent over projection for students seeking master’s degrees and 4.6 percent over the projected number of doctoral students.

Finally, data indicate that Mason has an increased number of students concentrated in degree programs geared toward high-need workforce areas, such as teaching, engineering, information technology and the health professions. Academic units offering high-need degrees are 8 to 10 percent over enrollment targets.

Write to mediarel at